December 10, 2006 – The Ilyushin Jet Touches Down on the Blue Ice Runway

Listen to Audio of Wally's Call (.wav)

Larry celebrates when he hears the plane is coming to get them

It’s just after 4:00pm on the 10th of December and Larry, Wayne and I just watched the Ilyushin 76 land on the blue ice runway, having arrived successfully from Punta Arenas.  So we will leave Antarctica as soon as they get the plane unloaded.  Our bags have already been put in the sled to drag out and be loaded on the plane and we’ll be off the ice and headed back for Chile within a couple of hours I’m sure.                       

Wayne, Larry and Wally finally leave AntarcticaToday’s a beautiful day.  This morning I could tell the wind had been down for awhile, at least at our camp.  So I went in at 6:00am and saw Jaco in the communications shelter and he was going over the satellite images that were coming in on his computer, looking at the wind speeds recorded down at the blue ice runway, wondering what the conditions would be like later in the day.  He knew there was a big storm system coming from a low pressure out to the east so we knew this was a window that we had to jump on today if the plane was to come in.  In fact some time after 11:00am today back in Punta Arenas the captain agreed that the conditions look right to give it try.

So Larry, Wayne and I are thrilled that we are on our way back to Chile tonight.  Larry actually has a 7:40am flight confirmed out of Punta Arenas for Santiago tomorrow.  So he will be walking the summer time streets of Santiago all day tomorrow and enjoying seeing people in short sleeved shirts and warm weather mode completely

For now we have a little more time.  All three of us here have enjoyed the expansive views of the ice, the Patriot Hill range and just the joy of being in Antarctica.  It’s been a great time down here.  We’ve loved our success on Mount Vinson, taking care of ourselves, climbing as high as we could and now it’s time to start thinking about heading back home via summer time in Chile.  Wayne and I are not yet confirmed but we’ll find our flights soon enough I’m sure and we’ll all be back home in Canada and the US in a matter of just a couple of days.

Update from the BAI Office….

The team arrived in Punta Arenas and Larry was successful in making his flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago early this morning December 11, 2006.